Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Meeting fire with fire can get you charred

There were many who believed that South Africa would win the World Cup. Some of us believed they would have the second best record behind Australia and meet them in the finals. But even as Australia has surprised us with their ruthless execution, South Africa’s campaign has stuttered in the Super 8s.

And that stuttering campaign came to a screeching halt today against their old enemy.

Initial aggression
The South Africans came out with the belief that in-your-face aggression was the only way to lay Australia low. Not a bad theory. When Smith won the toss, he chose to bat. They decided to go after McGrath. They looked to take charge. They announced their intentions by stepping out of their crease to play their shots. They wanted to meet fire with fire.

It didn’t go well at all.

Things start to go wrong
Although the wicket had some bounce, it was an excellent batting track. But Glen McGrath and Nathan Bracken found some minor late swing which when coupled with their accuracy proved to be overwhelming. The dismissals of Smith and Kallis resulted before the South Africans sensed they were down the wrong track. By then they were 12 for 2 and they hadn’t seen out their sixth over.

Tait the destroyer
More carnage ensued when Shaun Tait was given the ball. He was back to firing his thunderbolts at 90mph from wide of the crease. But he also occasionally put one down that went through straight through. He got three wickets of his four wickets with that delivery today – DeVilliers, Gibbs and Hall all picked up by Gilchrist. In between McGrath couldn’t believe his luck when the usually level headed Ashwell Prince nicked a wide one behind and then Boucher fished at one outside the off stump rooted to his spot.

Kemp plays a lone hand
Justin Kemp played a lone hand worth 49 in South Africa’s total of 149. The innings was in such disrepair that he was unable to go after even Brad Hogg – who in his enthusiasm to attack bowled some rubbish and still ended up with only 24 runs off 10 overs.

Minor scare for Australia
There was a brief moment of reckoning for Australia when Charl Langeveldt curled one in beautifully to uproot Gilchrist’s stumps. Australia were 1 for 1 in the second over and surely minor jitters must have gone through the dressing room. Ricky Ponting came in and steadied the ship – he chose to play straight and relied on his favorite pull as the only across the line option. Hayden played a subdued knock – gone were the shimmies down the track. Instead he chose to bat within his crease and with caution.

Clarke settles the issue
Ponting departed in the 9th over to make it 44 for 2, a superb yorker from Andre Nel taking out his stumps. This brought in Michael Clarke who played a match winning hand with the bat – 59 runs accumulated with caution, confidence and that trademark timing.

1 comment:

Indya said...

Thanks. Enjoyed your article.